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    20 Things I Learned This Week That Are So Fascinating, I Truly Will Never Be Able To Forget Them

    The Beastie Boys actually coined the term "mullet" in 1994. While the hairstyle had been popular long before the band hit it big, their 1994 song "Mullet Head" was the first time a name was associated with the "business in the front, party in the back" look.

    1. I'm low key terrified of snails now. Freshwater snails are hotbeds for parasites, and are responsible for about 200,000 human deaths every year. Meanwhile, cone snails are actually one of the deadliest sea creatures. Their venom is so potent and made from such a variety of toxins that there is no antidote for their stings.

    A snail on a log

    2. After the Jacksonville Jaguars found themselves winless after the first three weeks of the 2003 NFL season, coach Jack Del Rio put a massive tree stump and ax in the middle of their locker room to enforce their new mantra: "Keep chopping wood." Players would often chip small pieces of wood off of the stump after practice. By week 5 of the season, the Jaguars had finally gotten their first win, but the stump and ax remained the focal point of the locker room. During practice one day, punter Chris Hanson and kicker Seth Marler finished their workout early and headed back to the locker room. Hanson jokingly swung the ax, which lodged right in his leg. He was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery. Just nine months later, Hanson returned to the field, with no lingering effects from the accident.

    A football player on the field

    3. After the success of Disneyland and Walt Disney World, Disney wanted to develop a third theme park. They wanted to build the park in a place that already had an established tourist scene, and landed on Washington, DC as the perfect location. By 1991, development on the park was underway. Officials decided to build the park in Haymarket, Virginia, which was located about 35 miles away from Washington. Over 4,000 men had been killed just a few miles from the site during the Battle of Bull Run. The Walt Disney Company began purchasing land through shell companies in an effort to keep the plans under wraps. In 1993, Disney formally announced that construction on Disney's America was set to begin.


    Instead of focusing on Disney's trademark characters, the park's attractions would be American history-themed, with exhibits on slavery, the Vietnam War, immigration, and Native Americans. "We are going to be sensitive, but we will not be showing the absolute propaganda of the country," Disney Chairman Michael D. Eisner said during the park's official announcement in 1993. "This is not a Pollyanna view of America," Bob Weis, a Disney senior vice president, said. "We want to make you a Civil War soldier. We want to make you feel what it was like to be a slave or what it was like to escape through the underground railroad." Weis's remarks were seen as incredibly offensive.

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    Disney / Via

    While some locals were thrilled with the potential jobs and business opportunities the park would bring to the area, others were worried about the way Disney planned to portray sensitive historical events. “We have so little left that is authentic, that is real, and to replace it with plastic history, mechanized history, is a sacrilege," historian David McCullough said about the park. By spring 1994, 30 historians and writers formed a group called Protect Historic America to protest the park. Disney shot back and said that they had hired their own historians who would ensure the exhibits would remain authentic and accurate.

    David McCullough

    As the controversy around the portrayal of history ramped up, so did other concerns surrounding the park. Many began complaining about traffic, run-off, potential taxpayer costs, and the impact the park might have on local historic sites. In June 1994, a Congressional hearing about the park was held, with a protest march following in September. On September 28, 1994, Disney officially announced that they were pulling out of the Haymarket site. While they looked for other locations, the Disney's America project never came to fruition.

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    4. Iron Man was originally created on a dare! Marvel creator Stan Lee was challenged by a friend to create a character that was incredibly unlikable with the hopes of him becoming beloved by readers, despite his unfavorable traits. The result of the dare was Tony Stark, a billionaire weapons dealer who was portrayed as being incredibly selfish. Lee knew that many of his readers weren't fans of war and the military when Stark made his debut during the Cold War, but decided to make Stark's personality and career revolve around war anyway. It paid off. Iron Man became a beloved character, and 2008's Iron Man was the film that kicked off the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.

    5. We're all technically living in the past! It takes your brain about 80 milliseconds to process events once they've happened, meaning that by the time you understand what's going on, it's in the past. In fact, some physicists have argued there is actually no such thing as "now."

    6. In 1677, Daniel Leeds started an almanac that used astrology in a lot of its predictions. Quakers were outraged by this and often called Leeds an evil Satan worshipper. Despite this, the almanac was a success, and turned into a family business that Daniel passed down to his son Titan. While running the almanac, Titan learned that Benjamin Franklin was trying to publish an almanac of his own.

    Daniel Leeds

    Franklin wanted to dissuade people from reading the Leeds almanac, so he decided to publish a prediction that Titan Leeds would die on a certain date in 1733. When the date came and went without Titan's death, Leeds started a campaign proclaiming that Franklin was a liar. Franklin decided to tell his readers that Leeds must be a ghost, then argued that he had been resurrected. Shockingly, Franklin's audience believed this, and his almanac went on to be a success, while Leeds's almanac petered out.

    "Poor Richard's Almanac"

    7. It took Norman Greenbaum just 15 minutes to write the lyrics for his song "Spirit in the Sky" in 1968. The song became an instant hit, and has since been featured in over 30 commercials and 60 films. Greenbaum told the New York Times that he makes at least $10,000 every time the song is used in media. “Well, it’s not like it’s made me rich," he said. "But because of 'Spirit in the Sky,' I don’t have to work. So in that sense, it’s a comfortable living.”

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    UMG / Via

    8. NBC officials assumed that The Office would do particularly well in the middle-age, working-class demographic. When the show premiered in 2005, they found that it was struggling with their target audience. Cast members worried that the show wasn't going to be renewed, and said that NBC executives were often pessimistic about the show's chances.

    The cast of "The Office"

    The show eventually scored a second season just as Apple was making TV show downloads available on iTunes. Much to the shock of NBC executives, they found The Office took up four of the five slots for the most downloaded shows. Once they realized that the show was skewing younger than they expected, they were able to retool the show, making it brighter and more optimistic.

    9. If you want to see a piece of the Berlin Wall, just head to the men's room at the Main Street Station Casino, Brewery, and Hotel in Las Vegas, where three urinals are mounted on a graffiti-covered slab of the wall. It's unclear exactly who brought a piece of the wall to the casino because it was already there when Main Street bought the property in the 1990s.

    Berlin Wall

    10. When WarGames, which featured a teenage hacker breaking into the US missile system and nearly launching nuclear war, was released in 1983, Ronald Reagan was treated to a screening at Camp David. After finishing the movie, Reagan called a meeting and asked, "Could something like this really happen? Could someone break into our most sensitive computers?" White House staff went on to investigate, and about a week later, came to Reagan and said, "Mr. President, the problem is much worse than you think.” Reagan's fears surrounding the movie eventually pushed the government to update computer security at the Department of Defense, and paved the way for the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

    Screenshot from "WarGames"

    11. While legend might tell you that oysters make pearls out of a grain of sand, that's not always the case. Oysters actually can make pearls out of anything, from food caught in their tissues to a piece of debris. Then, oysters begin coating the irritant in the same substance that their shells are made out of, in turn creating a pearl. Pearls take about 5 years to fully develop. Now, farmers often slip an irritant into the oysters and check back on them years later to ensure a gorgeous pearl every time.

    A pearl in an oyster

    12. NBA legend Tim Duncan wasn't always big on basketball. Duncan was born in St. Croix, where he dreamed of following in his older sister's footsteps and becoming an Olympic-level swimmer. When Hurricane Hugo hit the US Virgin Islands in 1989, it destroyed the island's only Olympic-sized pool. Duncan was told that he would have to start swimming in the ocean if he wanted to continue his training.

    Tim Duncan

    The issue? Duncan was so afraid of sharks that he refused to swim in the ocean, and was forced to withdraw from the team. Soon after, he turned to basketball, where he instantly excelled on the court. And as for those Olympic dreams? Duncan went on to make the US National Basketball Team. While a knee injury kept him out of the 2000 Olympics, he competed in the 2004 games, where the team won a bronze medal.

    Tim Duncan

    13. Mullets are a trend I didn't have on my 2022 bingo card, but apparently, they're back! The Beastie Boys actually coined the term "mullet" in 1994, and are even credited with naming the hairstyle in the Oxford Dictionary. While the hairstyle had been popular long before the band, their 1994 song "Mullet Head" was the first time a name was associated with the "business in the front, party in the back" look.

    14. While alligators and crocodiles are equally terrifying, there’s only one place in the world where the two species peacefully co-exist: South Florida.

    An alligator

    15. The 2003 live-action adaption of The Cat in the Hat ranks highly on my list of movies that feel like a total fever dream. The movie was so bizarre that it ended up on tons of "Worst Of" lists. Even Dr. Seuss's widow Audrey Geisel hated it. She thought the movie was so bad that she refused to allow any more live-action adaptions of Dr. Seuss's work, and said the film was especially disappointing because The Cat in the Hat was the "spokescat" of the Dr. Seuss brand.

    The Cat in the Hat

    16. While "Google" is widely used as a verb today, the first instance of it ever appearing on TV was in an October 2002 episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In the Season 7 episode "Help," Willow asks Buffy, “Have you Googled her yet?” Just a few months later, the word "Google" was voted the most useful word of 2002.

    "Have you Googled her yet?"

    17. On January 24, 1961, a US Air Force bomber sprung a fuel leak and broke in half while flying over Goldsboro, a town in eastern North Carolina. As the bomber broke, two nuclear bombs fell from the plane and hit the ground. Luckily, the bombs, which were said to be stronger than those used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, didn't detonate. A pin on one of the bombs was pulled in time to prevent it from exploding, while the other bomb was damaged too badly to detonate when it hit the ground.

    A crew cleaning up debris

    So, what would have happened had the bombs gone off? Each bomb had a radiation radius of over 15 miles, although winds could have pulled the radiation even further. Had this happened today, the radiation alone would have killed an estimated 60,000 people, and left an estimated 54,000 more injured.

    A crew cleaning up debris

    18. Astronauts Mark Lee and Jan Davis met in 1991 while training for the same space mission. They immediately fell for each other and wed soon after. The couple knew they had to keep their relationship secret if they wanted to stay on the same mission, because NASA had an unwritten policy that forbade married astronauts from flying together. Nine months later, they finally revealed their marriage after they knew it would be too late for NASA to train replacement astronauts for their flight. To this day, they're the only married couple who has ever flown in space together.

    Jan Davis and Mark Lee

    19. We all know that the Titanic sank during its maiden voyage after striking an iceberg, but did you know that area is now known as Iceberg Alley? Located in Canada, between 400 and 800 icebergs are spotted in Iceberg Alley each year. After the Titanic sank in 1912, Canada, the United States, and 12 other countries formed the International Ice Patrol to warn approaching ships of dangerous icebergs ahead.

    Drawing of the Titanic

    20. And finally, Virginia Apgar broke barriers for women in medicine. After finishing college, Apgar became one of few women to attend medical school. In 1933, she was one of the first women to graduate from Columbia University with a medical degree. While Apgar originally wanted to be a surgeon, she found that women were frozen out of the speciality, so she set her sights on anesthesiology, which was then seen as a nurse's responsibility. Through the 1940s, Apgar worked to legitimize anesthesiology. In 1949, she became Columbia's first female full-time professor, where she researched the effects of anesthesia during childbirth.

    Virginia Apgar

    In 1952, Apgar developed the Apgar Score. An Apgar Score is assigned to every infant during childbirth, and measures the pulse, respiration, muscle tone, color, and reflexes of a newborn baby. The Apgar Score has proven crucial in saving the lives of infants in the first few minutes of childbirth, and is still widely used today. Apgar's research went on to help develop the field of perinatology, which focuses on fetal health and complicated pregnancies.

    Virginia Apgar